Day 100-102 – Drip, Drip, Drip…

     (Ed: Yes, I’m making a Chumbawamba reference in the title – you will just have to accept it.)

It really all started with a slow drain. We were showering and the drain would stop making draining noises. Then the “kitchen sink” we were using would start making noises too, as if gasping for air. Not a big deal though – the water *did eventually drain*… maybe it was just a venting problem? (I didn’t vent any of the temporary plumbing for our shower / sink as that would be money on parts that doesn’t need to be spent since it’s just going to be ripped out later.)

Finally the toilet was starting to bubble up from the bowl also. Clearly, there was something going on with our drainage system that hadn’t happened before.

We knew our drainage system wasn’t in the best condition when we bought the place:

But for some reason, when the toilet flushed everything still made it out to the city… that’s the most important part, so it’s all good, right? Well…

We finally called Mr. Rooter for a scope down our sewage line (something we knew we would have to do someday and would advise everyone to do for peace of mind… but I would now recommend doing this sooner – even during the house buying process, if you can).

What we found was bad news: the cast iron pipe that ran diagonally across our basement floor (who knew?) and joined up with the city’s clay pipe (somewhere?) was basically non-functional. The 1.5″ scope could barely make it through, and that was after hammering away at it for an hour. The join between the cast iron and the clay pipe was damaged beyond repair. We needed to do something, and we needed to do it relatively quickly:

We knew this day was coming in some form or another, but we possibly didn’t expect it so soon. Some people might totally freak out at the proposition of ripping out their entire drainage system… and true enough, we sorta did ourselves. However, we were always planning to remove this:

and this:

but maybe not this part yet – oh well, get ready for some demolition in the foyer!

So we got a quote to remove *all of the cast iron stack in the house* (vertically, and horizontally in the concrete), and (originally), “line” the clay pipe with a solution from Hy-Pro Tech so we wouldn’t have to dig up our front lawn. (Heh – you already know where this story is going…)

They started the work and quickly found out that the cast iron pipe didn’t stop inside the house – it stopped outside of the house.

About two feet off our foundation wall. They were never going to be able to line the pipe like they were planning and get a nice result – they needed to dig the front lawn instead and just replace it with brand new, shiny PVC.

Oh, and how did we feel about that tree on our front lawn? Can they just cut it down to get the 9′ backhoe in?


We worked it out in the end. The backhoe got here and we only needed to take a “pie wedge” out of the tree to get it underneath. *smaller tear.* It’ll recover. If not, I’ll call back my arborist to get his opinion on what we can do…

Then they trenched the lawn:

Oh, and while they were down there, did you know that your water main is only 1/2″ copper and really isn’t up to any modern building code? It should really be 3/4″… It’s also in the way of taking out the cast iron pipe and we’re going to have to bend it out and put it back, otherwise…


Yes, please replace it. We are never, ever going through this experience again and paying for it ourselves. The city can pay to dig my front yard the next time if the water main bursts / there’s a problem with the main city drains. Apparently the city drains are still clay in our area so, this is probably likely going to happen again (somewhere) in the neighbourhood. I can also imagine a project sometime that will consume our entire street to replace drains. Also, Cambridge has very hard water (ground water) so water mains bursting in the winter is apparently not unheard of…

Finally, after some tying in to the water main / drain at the street, it was just a matter of backfill:

and re-attaching the water main inside (while finally moving my water meter off of the damp concrete – thank you!!)

and putting back the (still temporary) laundry sink so our condensate lines / washing machine have somewhere to drain to.

They also installed a cheater trap by the laundry sink to avoid running venting across the entire span of the basement.

All in all, it was a huge project (even admittedly by the plumbers’ standards) but the finished result is *amazing*.

Go on, flush my toilet! Wash your hands in my sink!

*drip, drip, drip*

Like music to my ears – every time. Thank you so much Mr. Rooter!

[ Day 100-102’s Gallery ]

– Jeff

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